We spend the majority of our time at work; according to a study conducted by Gettysburg College, the average American spends 90,000 hours at work. That’s about a third of a lifetime. So, it makes sense to try and make the best of that time with some perks at work.
What Are Office Perks?
Company perks can be anything from a gym membership to free snacks in the breakroom, and they can have a big impact on retaining staff or hiring new employees. The bottom line is about cultivating a workplace culture where employees feel valued and stay happy in work. Having perks at work can also increase productivity and morale because the office becomes more of a place people want to be for those 35+ hours a week.
A study by an economist at Glassdoor showed that money is not the be-all and end-all for employees. Culture plays a huge part in the contentment of people at work and shouldn’t be underestimated. Perks at work that promote wellbeing and show that employees are valued and recognised are pretty vital if you want to keep your staff happy and keep them within the company.
UK-based workplace catering company Feedr conducted a survey that showed having perks such as flexible working hours, subsidised childcare, and mental health services contributed to an employee satisfaction rate of over 70% and a 50% increase in employee retention. They also looked into what kind of company perks had the highest importance according to employees. The top contenders are a good pension scheme, flexible working hours, and access to mental health services like free counselling or mindfulness initiatives. Sponsored career development ranked highly too, which goes to show that employees aren’t just after free snacks and a monthly gym membership.
Monetary compensation and benefits are still the most important but are arguably something any business can offer. To make your business stand out from the crowd, think beyond pay and deliver some other perks at work. Ask employees what perks at work they’d like to see – they’ll probably come up with things you haven’t thought of!
Employee Perks Programs
Another thing that has become popular within the workplace is implementing an employee perks program online. The key thing about this kind of incentive platform is that it’s interactive. When employees are able to get involved in things in the workplace, it has a good effect on morale. The employee perks program can either be something you design yourself in-house, or something you outsource. There are plenty of companies, like Perks At Work, who offer flexible and easy to use platforms on which to showcase the company perks you have.
By signing up with an external company, you can give your employees access to discount shopping codes and vouchers they might not be able to access elsewhere, and you can usually integrate your own rewards and recognition programs too.
However, you don’t necessarily need to rely on a third party to give your employees office perks. Small changes like allowing flexible working hours can make a huge difference, as can making sure your office amenities are of good quality and up to date, and that they actually work – installing a coffee machine that regularly breaks down isn’t going to start anyone’s day right.
Office amenities don’t just include the physical machines you provide for your staff. Counted among them are things like somewhere for staff to eat lunch away from their desks and breakout areas where teams can brainstorm and get creative for projects they’re working on.
Whiteboards are notoriously brilliant in a brainstorming session so make sure to have one or two available for your staff.
Regular or semi-regular social activities for the office are not only a great company perk, but they create an environment where staff can mingle and get a chance to bond outside of the office. Quite often within a company there can be a divide between departments, especially those that don’t have cause to work directly together. Social outings can create a sense of teamwork that will cross these divides.
Ideas for Employee Appreciation Week
Employee Appreciation Day is on the first Friday in March for companies across the US and Canada. It’s an unofficial holiday but a great chance to show your employees how much they are valued, and to thank them for all the hard work they’ve done. Many companies extend this celebration of appreciation for the entire week leading up to the Friday, and we’ve done some homework of our own to compile some creative ideas for employee appreciation week for you to use.
Free day or half day of annual leave on the Friday
If this is feasible for your organisation on a large scale, it’s a really simple and nice way to show a bit of appreciation for your staff. Especially on a Friday! If you can’t have all employees leave early, stagger it across the week for different departments or grant each employee the extra day for use at their discretion (with certain parameters if necessary).
Bring your dog to work
This work perk is 100% Larry approved, obviously. (And we’re not biased, honest.) Pet owners who are able to bring their dog to the office show a decline in stress levels compared to when having to leave him/her at home, as shown by research done at Virginia Commonwealth University. This also promotes a healthier work/life balance for pet owners and has the bonus of reducing costs for doggy daycare. Plus, a quick cuddle with a pooch can really boost your mood.
If considering a dog in the workplace, be sure to check with all employees that they feel comfortable. You don’t want to alienate anyone or, worse, inadvertently frighten any staff who aren’t as dog-confident.
Spring for the good coffee
If your office is anything like ours, then your must-have fuel is a great cup of coffee (or tea!). Maybe the machine that has been employee of the month more times than anyone else is starting to flag – if so, this is a perfect opportunity to upgrade it for your staff. If you already have a state-of-the-art machine, you could do a bulk order for the really good stuff at your local independent coffee chain instead.
Hire a guest speaker
Break up the routine of the workday by inviting employees to a talk conducted by an industry professional. Some ideas for topics could be wellness and mental health, how to perfect the work/life balance, or how to grow in a particular role.
Organise a social event for the whole office
Team activities such as bowling or laser tag are a winning option for this perk. Have staff sign up to attend and then randomly assign the teams so there’s more inter-departmental connection. You could even turn it into a tournament with a grand prize at the end. Or, to keep it simple and engaging, this social event could be as simple as a subsidised evening at a bar after work or a company picnic.
Other creative ideas for employee appreciation week could be any of the following:
- Team lunch out
- Extended break hours
- Social media features on staff members or teams
- Free pizza in the office
- Invest in a ping pong table for some friendly competitions
Office Awards Ideas
To inject a bit of spice into the daily goings on in the office with the bonus of boosting the confidence and wellbeing of your employees, how about creating some office awards? You know the type: best coffee brewer, best at unjamming the printer, tidiest desk. Something to make employees feel seen and understood. This isn’t necessarily about making sure you crown the ultimate best worker; it’s about showing that each employee is included.
Make sure any awards you create reflect your company culture – keep them fun and light but be sure not to inadvertently offend anyone. Entertain, don’t embarrass! In fact, it’s a smart idea to get employees themselves involved in coming up with ideas for awards.
We’ve come up with some fun and light-hearted office awards ideas that you can try, but this is also another office perk that staff can get involved in. Ask your staff to help come up with some award names and also nominate their coworkers.
- Best handwriting
- Fewest typos in emails
- Tidiest desk – AKA the Clean Slate award
- Messiest desk – AKA the Bermuda triangle award (things go in and don’t come out!)
- Best maker of coffee/tea
- Unofficial printer hero
- Most time logged with IT
- Always in a meeting, never to be found – AKA the Loch Ness award
- Calmest in a crisis
- Most likely to tweet about this
- Best office DJ – who always delivers when it’s their turn to put Spotify on?
- Best doodles on meeting notes – AKA the Picasso award
Implementing Perks at Work
It’s all very well coming up with the ideas, but how exactly do you get them going? There isn’t a quick fix answer for this, as it depends on how the cogs of your company work and what kind of budget you’ve managed to set aside. If you have loads of great ideas and aren’t sure where to start, send round a poll of some kind that your staff can answer to help you prioritise which ones to roll out first.
Without this kind of engagement and communication, employees are less likely to want to remain within a business long-term. By taking the time to come up with some concepts and ideas for perks at work, you’re already one step closer to nurturing an environment in which your employees feel happier and more valued. After all, we do our best work when we’re happy and motivated!